Posts tagged ‘GaComputes’

Georgia Governor shows Support for CS in Schools


It’s not too often that a policy announcement about education happens on the Georgia Tech campus.  In the picture above, tech entrepreneur Chris Klaus is introducing Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (who is second from the right — the guy on the far right is our Provost Rafael Bras), in the Klaus Advanced Computing Building (same Klaus — he funded the building).  Chris has been spearheading an effort to get more “coding” into Georgia schools.

The Governor said that he’s asking the State Board of Education for computer science to count as core science, mathematics, and foreign languages.

The gossip before the talk was that he was going to announce that CS would count for (i.e., replace) foreign languages (which is not a good idea).  This announcement was a bit better than that, but it’s still not clear what it means.  AP CS already counts as a science towards high school graduation.  Does it mean that more CS courses will count?  That AP CS will count as any of math, science, or foreign languages?  And will the State Board of Education go along with this?  Who knows?

The guy on the far left of that picture is Representative Mike Dudgeon.  He’s taken on the task of changing the “highly-qualified” list in Georgia so that business teachers OR math teachers OR science teachers can teach CS in Georgia.  Currently, CS is a “Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education” subject, meaning that only teachers with a business certificate can teach CS.  Barbara Ericson has fought hard so that mathematics teachers can also teach AP CS — but this all leaves us in the weird position that AP CS counts as a science, but science teachers can’t teach it.  Only math and business teachers can teach AP CS in Georgia. That would be great if Dudgeon is successful.  It’s easier to teach CS to math and science teachers than business teachers.

I was a meeting recently with Chris Klaus where he said that he wants to make Georgia the first state in the USA to require CS for high school graduation.  When I balked at that (citing the issues in my Blog@CACM post), he had an interesting counter-proposal.  We give schools and districts who aren’t ready to teach CS a waiver, but to get a waiver, you have to have a plan in place to be able to teach CS within three years.  Might work.

My proposal in the group that Chris has founded to have more “coding education in Georgia” isn’t getting much traction.  I proposed we do what Calculus did. How did Calculus get taught in every high school? First, schools in the 1800’s started teaching calculus to undergrads. By the 1900’s, every STEM undergrad had to take Calculus, and the top high schools were preparing their kids for Calculus. By the late 1900’s, all high schools were offering calculus.  My proposal is that that the Board of Regents make CS part of the general education requirement of all undergraduates in the University System of Georgia. Every student in every college in Georgia would be required to take a course in CS. Unlike elementary and high schools, USG institutions have CS teachers — they might have to hire more faculty to handle the load, but they know how to do it. It’s much less expensive to teach CS at the undergraduate level than at the high or elementary school level. But this creates the curriculum (you have to teach a different CS to everyone from what you teach to CS majors) that the high-end schools will immediately start to emulate, and that will get copied into other high schools.  Biggest advantage is that every new teacher (business, math, or science) will take a CS class! That should accelerate the rate of getting teachers who know CS into schools, and give them a new tool for teaching STEM classes.

Anyway, it’s probably a good thing that there is all of this interest in computing education from Georgia political leaders.


August 26, 2014 at 8:14 am 6 comments

Special Issue of ACM Transactions on Computing Education: International K12 CS with “Georgia Computes!”

The special issue of ACM Transactions on Computing Education on primary and secondary schools’ computing has just come out (see table of contents).  There are articles on the UK’s Computing at School effort, Tim Bell’s effort in New Zealand, and efforts in Israel, Germany, Italy, Russia, and several others.

This is a particularly big deal for Barb and me, because in this issue, we publish the capstone journal paper on “Georgia Computes!” and describe what resulted from our six years worth of effort.  We present both the positives (e.g., big increase in Hispanic participation in CS, teacher professional development touching 37% of all high schools in the state, great summer camp programs spread across the state) and the negatives (e.g., little impact on African American participation, little uptake by University faculty).

Georgia Computes! (GaComputes) was a six-year (2006–2012) project to improve computing education across the state of Georgia in the United States, funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of GaComputes was to broaden participation in computing and especially to engage more members of underrepresented groups which includes women, African Americans, and Hispanics. GaComputes’ interventions were multi-faceted and broad: summer camps and after-school/weekend programs for 4th–12th grade students, professional development for secondary teachers, and professional development for post-secondary instructors faculty. All of the efforts were carefully evaluated by an external team (led by the third and fourth authors), which provides us with an unusually detailed view into a computing education intervention across a region (about 59K square miles, about 9.9 million residents). Our dataset includes evaluations from over 2,000 students who attended after-school or weekend workshops, over 500 secondary school teachers who attended professional development, 120 post-secondary teachers who attended professional development, and over 2,000 students who attended a summer day (non-residential) camp. GaComputes evaluations provide insight into details of interventions and into influences on student motivation and learning. In this article, we describe the results of these evaluations and describe how GaComputes broadened participation in computing in Georgia through both direct interventions and indirect support of other projects.

July 15, 2014 at 9:01 am 2 comments

New UChicago Reports: Teacher Capacity Survey and Stories from the Field

The latest reports from the University of Chicago’s research on the state of computing education in the United States are now out.  The ACM hired the U. Chicago Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education to figure out where we are today.  The first study, the Landscape Study, came out last year.  Two new ones came out this week:

  • The Teacher Capacity Survey asks the teachers about their needs and where they see CS Education today.  The big problem with that study (which they recognize) is that they got a biased population.  The teachers who responded are the most educated, the most supported.  Half of the respondents reported teaching CS for 10 years or more.  Other data (like the CSTA survey) paint a different picture.  Still, the Teacher Capacity survey provides interesting voices to the discussion, 774 responses from (they estimate) about 10% of the target population.
  • The Stories from the Field are targeted interviews to tell four regional stories: Chicago, U. Alabama, Purdue University, and Georgia. Yes, I was interviewed, and recordings of me answering some of the interview questions are part of the Georgia story.  I’ve skimmed all four stories now and really like them.  My favorite part of this report so-far are the cross-cutting themes.

July 10, 2013 at 1:15 am Leave a comment

Why women leave academia and why universities should be worried

Fascinating study  — not surprising, but worthwhile noting.  This work was done in Chemistry, so it bears replication in other STEM disciplines.  Some on the SIGCSE-Members list were wondering, “Is this just for research-oriented universities?  Or for teaching-oriented universities, too?”  In our work interviewing faculty as part of our work in GaComputes and DCCE, we heard surprisingly similar concerns at both kinds of institutions.  The faculty at schools with a teaching mission told us that their tenure was based on research publications, and they felt similar levels of stress.

Young women scientists leave academia in far greater numbers than men for three reasons. During their time as PhD candidates, large numbers of women conclude that (i) the characteristics of academic careers are unappealing, (ii) the impediments they will encounter are disproportionate, and (iii) the sacrifices they will have to make are great.

via Why women leave academia and why universities should be worried | Higher Education Network | Guardian Professional.

June 21, 2013 at 1:10 am 1 comment

Last Minute Openings in CS:Principles Teacher Workshop! Time Sensitive!

Barbara Ericson just found out that several teachers have dropped out from a professional development workshop that we’re offering next week.  This means that we have some (limited) funding for travel available, and hotel rooms already booked, so we’re trying to get the word out broadly to fill those (very last minute) slots. Below is the message that she sent to teachers in Georgia. We’ll take teachers from other states as well.

The workshop is on CS Principles Big Ideas  from June 17-21st at Georgia Tech. Rebecca Dovi is leading this workshop. She is one of the CS:Principles pilot teachers. She has created many interesting activities for teaching CS Principles and will be sharing those activities. See for her blog.

We still have hotel rooms available for attendees. We pay for parking and lunch for all attendees. We have limited funds to reimburse for travel as well. You can register at

For more information on the workshop, see

June 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

“What does Guzdial do anyway?”

I gave the last GVU Brown Bag seminar of the academic year.  Video is available at the link below.

Speaker: Mark Guzdial

Title:  What We Know About Teaching Computer Science (“What does Guzdial do, Anyway?”)


We have known for over 30 years that learning to program is surprisingly hard.  A series of international studies have shown remarkably little success in teaching programming. In my group, we have been developing approaches to improve learning about computing, by improving retention through relevance and by teaching in problem domain context.  Our classes and studies have utilized computer-supported collaborative learning, so we explore learning on-line as well as in-classroom. We have learned how anchored collaboration can lead to longer on-topic discussions, but how perceptions of course culture can dramatically inhibit discussion.  We have shown that well-designed on-line activities can lead to better learning at reduced cost (including time costs for the student and instructor). We are currently developing an ebook for learning computer science by high school teachers where we are trying to integrate these lessons for a new audience.

via GVU Brown Bag Seminar: Mark Guzdial | GVU Center at Georgia Tech.

May 15, 2013 at 1:33 am 6 comments

Heading to Denmark May 10-16

I’ll be traveling to Denmark with Barbara Ericson on May 10 to attend a conference at Aarhus University on their new computer science curriculum.  Michael Caspersen invited us out.  Simon Peyton-Jones of the Computing At Schools effort in the United Kingdom will be speaking as well.  I’m copy-pasting the program (translated from Danish) to give you a sense of what it’s all about. It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the efforts to move computing into primary and secondary education in Denmark and the UK.

The purpose of the conference is to establish support for our efforts by raising political awareness at all levels of decision making in our society related to teaching computing in school (parliament, regional and city councils, high school principals, high school teachers, deans, chairs and professors in computing departments, IT organizations, journalists, etc.).

09.30 Registration and coffee

- exhibition of student projects opens

10.00 Welcome

- Peter Hesseldahl (moderator)

10.15 Digital literacy: creative and critical innovation — three perspectives

- Michael: Insight and vision through computing

- Jacob (high school teacher): Computing — a creative, critical and constructive subject

- Susanne: Why does society need digital literacy?

11.15 Break

11.45 Digital literacy in an international perspective

- Mark: Why everyone will need digital literacy in their life

- Simon: Digital literady: Why every child should learn computing from primary school onwards

12.15 Lunch

13.15 Panel: On the importance of digital literacy for high school students

- Christine Antorini, Minister of Children and Education

- Morten Østergaard, Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education

- Morten Bangsgaard, CEO, The Danish IT Industry Association (ITB)

- Anne Frausing, Principal and representative for the High School Principal’s Association

- Gitte Møldrup, Managing Director, IT-VEST — Networking Universities

14.30 Break

15.00 Simon: Computing at School: How the UK is radically reshaping its curriculum for the 21st century

15.25 Mark: CS10K: Providing access to computing education across the US

15.50 Wrap-up

16.00 End of plenary session

16.30 Exhibition of student projects ends

May 6, 2013 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

Older Posts

Recent Posts

September 2014
« Aug    


Blog Stats

  • 940,331 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,011 other followers

CS Teaching Tips


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,011 other followers